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Corporate Europe Observer - Issue 7
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Corporate Europe Observer

e are pleased to present to you this latest issue of the Corporate Europe Observer. In this issue, we bring you eight in-depth articles covering the myriad aspects of corporate power in Europe and internationally. We first take a look at one of the newest forums where corporate political power manifests itself - the European Business Summit (EBS). The EBS seeks to, "bring the worlds of business and policy makers closer together," which was evident by the attendance of nine European Commissioners to this corporate-state dialogue forum.

Both the corporate and government officials who were present at the EBS viewed the event as a follow-up meeting to the EU 'Jobs Summit', held in Lisbon March 23-24, 2000. The second article examines the role that the European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT) played in this summit. It looks at how the ERT is working towards what ERT member and CEO of Solvay, Baron Daniel Janssen, describes as a 'double revolution' consisting of, "reducing the power of the state and of the public sector in general through privatisation and deregulation."

While the European Union, at the behest of groups such as the ERT, is rapidly seeking to transform itself into, "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world," one of the darlings of the 'knowledge economy' - the biotech industry - has recently suffered a major embarrassment. The third article in this issue describes how the European biotech lobby group, EuropaBio, recently cancelled its annual congress due to fear of public protests.

We also bring you an update on the negotiations on the new EU treaty and the controversial new campaign for fast-tracking decision-making on the EU's international trade policies, launched by European Commissioner for Trade, Pascal Lamy. The upcoming EU summit in Nice, France this December may endorse a radical proposal to allow the European Commission to negotiate unilaterally in new areas such as services, intellectual property, and investment. We look at how this proposal came to be, what its current status is and how it could spell disaster for those campaigning against a new round of negotiations in the World Trade Organisation and for democratic, sustainable and fair trade policies.

Meanwhile, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) recently held its 33rd World Congress in Budapest, Hungary, where the subject of how to counter the growing backlash against globalisation topped the agenda. Our report of the Congress concludes that industry isn't really interested in actually dealing with the very real social and ecological problems caused by corporate-led globalisation, but focuses on how 'to be seen' to be dealing with these problems. The Congress also revealed just how much transnational corporations have to gain through the 'Global Compact' with the United Nations, which would boost their image without committing them to make any substantial changes to their behaviour. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has been selling the Compact as a tool for corporations to improve their image and indeed the image of corporate-led globalisation as a whole. Here you can find an update on the current status of the Global Compact, especially since its official relaunch at a recent 'High-Level Meeting' of the UN in July.

Back in March of this year, a high profile event held in the Hague, Netherlands, brought together world leaders, environment ministers, officials from the World Bank, United Nations bodies, and corporate dominated think-tanks and organisations, as well as CEOs from some of the largest transnational water corporations, to discuss the world's water problems and how to deal with them. Our report of the 2nd World Water Forum reveals the main corporate players dominating the global water agenda, and how the Forum itself helped boost promote global water privatisation and deregulation.

And finally, Tarjei Leer-Salvesen from the Norwegian corporate watchdog group, NorWatch, writes about a new initiative in Norway to attempt to regulate Norwegian companies? activities abroad and hold them accountable to minimum social and environmental standards.


European Business Summit (EBS): Consolidating Corporate Power

ERT Moves to Next Phase in Europe's 'Double Revolution'

European Biotech Congress Cancelled

New EU Treaty May Give European Commission 'Fast-Track' Negotiating Authority

ICC Step-Up Counter Campaign Against Critics of Corporate-Led Globalisation

Campaign for a Corporate-Free UN

...And Not a Drop to Drink! Water Forum Promotes Privatisation and Deregulation of World's Water

An Ombudsman to Control Companies? The Norwegian Experience

CEO News

This issue of the Corporate Europe Observer is brought to you by Belén Balanyá, Ann Doherty, Olivier Hoedeman, Adam Ma'anit, and Erik Wesselius. Tarjei Leer-Salvesen from NorWatch, contributed the article on the Norwegian corporate regulation initiative.

Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), is a European-based research and campaign group targeting the threats to democracy, equity, social justice and the environment posed by the economic and political power of corporations and their lobby groups.

 Paulus Potterstraat 20 1071 DA Amsterdam  Netherlands  tel/fax: +31-20-612-7023  e-mail: <ceo@xs4all.nl>